Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Minutemen trying to move on from senior losses

By Steve Levine

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Losing seniors is a part of the game.

It happens every year. Players graduate, younger players have shoes to fill. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. While Massachusetts baseball team coach Mike Stone understands big losses, he sees it as an opportunity.

“[We lost] our second basemen, Adam Tempesta,” Stone said. “He was a captain for two years and a starter for four. [Pitchers] Mitchell Clegg and Mitchell Eilenberg; those guys were key losses as well. That was a long time ago, though, we need to move on and other players need to step forward.”

Tempesta, a fixture in the Minuteman lineup for four straight years, currently holds the UMass records for most games played (147), most at bats (747) and most doubles (54). He holds second place in hits (239) and sixth in runs batted in (124).

Clegg’s loss will be felt as well, as his record last year (7-1) led the Minuteman staff. He recorded a team-high 91 innings pitched and 81 strikeouts in 2009.

Eilenberg, a workhorse out of the bullpen for the past three seasons, holds the school record in career appearances (67) and saves (10).

The loss of quality, veteran players is obvious to Stone. However, much of the UMass roster remains intact. One player Stone looks to be a constant this year is Brian Baudinet, the senior centerfielder.

“Baudinet really dedicated himself to having a good year this year – his preparation has been outstanding,” Stone said. “I think him being the fifth-year guy and being a captain and starting center fielder for us the past three years is really going to pay off.”

Baudinet started all 53 games last year and found himself among the leaders on the team in nearly every offensive category. He ranked fourth with a .541 slugging percentage, third with a .420 on base percentage, first in runs scored and fourth in runs batted in.

Teamed up with fellow senior and captain Mike Donato in leftfield, the duo is expected to be part of one of the most potent outfields in the Atlantic 10.

UMass’ .309 batting average is ranked fifth in the A-10 and its 5.10 ERA ranked third in the conference. However, its .954 fielding percentage ranked 12th. Like most successful teams, Stone believes that balance is the key to success.

“We’d like to have a good balance, you know, with pitching and defense,” Stone said. “It’s like how [everyone says] before Red Sox seasons that pitching and defense will win ballgames. The season is not very predictable, though.”

UMass ranked 12th in the league last year in stolen base attempts, something that might change this year.

“Putting pressure on the other team and making them play the short game by stealing bases and keeping them on their toes is kind of an ideal way to approach [the game],” Stone said.

UMass’ 27-26 overall record and 16-11 conference record was one of the best it’s had in years. The Minutemen are expected to deliver a similar performance this season.

“[Last year], we got through a tough phase in the beginning of the season when we couldn’t finish ballgames well,” Stone said. “We matured, though, hung in there and battled and played the end of the season like we thought we could.”

Stone does not concern himself with preseason predictions.

“It’s not really where you start but it’s where you finish that makes a difference,” Stone said. “I don’t spend a lot of time looking at those things. We need to take it game by game.”

Steve Levine can be reached at [email protected]

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